GOP official Haley Barbour: Obama not a Muslim, but he is mysterious

Republican Governors Association Chair Haley Barbour says he believes President Obama is a Christian, but argues that Americans know less about the chief executive than 'any other president in history.'

Michael Bonfigli/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
Mississippi Gov. Baley Barbour told reporters at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast Wednesday that he didn't think there was a coordinated misinformation campaign aimed at convincing people President Obama is a Muslim.

Republican Governors Association Chair and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Wednesday that he accepted “just totally at face value” President Obama’s affirmations that he is a Christian, but added that Americans know less about the chief executive than “any other president in history.”

Governor Barbour was asked at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters on Wednesday about a national survey by the Pew Research Center conducted in August that found 18 percent of Americans said Obama is a Muslim. Pew, a highly respected, non-partisan polling operation, also reported that only 34 percent of adults say the president is a Christian, down sharply from 48 percent in 2009. Finally, 43 percent of those polled said they do not know what Obama's religion is.

Barbour was asked by a reporter whether the Pew poll showed there was a coordinated misinformation campaign on the subject of religion by Oabama’s critics. "I don't know why people think what they think. This is a president that we know less about than any other president in history,” Barbour said. “But I have no idea why. I accept just totally at face value that he is a Christian. He said so throughout the time he has been in public life. That's good enough for me. Do I think there is a vast right-wing conspiracy? No ma'am."

After the breakfast ended, Barbour was probed about his answer and added, “There is not much known about his time in college," he said. "We don't know if he chopped down a cherry tree.” The governor said he had not read Mr. Obama’s two autobiographical books.

During the breakfast, the RGA Chair was also asked whether the Democrats' plan to use Michelle Obama to campaign for certain Democratic candidates this fall would be effective. “I think she will be very well received," he said. "She is a gracious, attractive, very bright lady. I don’t think it will change any votes but I think she will be very well received everywhere in the country,” he replied.

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